Sunday, 22 April 2018

Spring Came

This week in the life was marked by the arrival of spring (finally!), a new to us dressage saddle to try, a massive tack clean up, a good pony, and a not so good pony. Oh, and some self improvement.

Spring! Some tulips even escaped our resident deer! :)

There  was an eBay saga last week where I found what I thought was the perfect saddle, but eBay would not let the seller mark it as sold nor could they give me a receipt for the payment! So weird. After much time chatting to the help desk, it was decided it was a computer glitch and they needed to refund my money and relist the saddle. At which point someone else "Bought it now". Arghhh.

I panicked and found a different saddle that was a bit more of a shot in the dark and had that shipped out for  trial. It's a wide tree Jeffries in lovely shape. I don't overly like it for me, and it's actually a bit too wide for B, but the price was right, and it's a better fit for both of us than the County it's replacing. I'm going to keep it and use shims so that I at least have a saddle to ride in while we look for the unicorn saddle we both like. I hate saddle shopping! B's topline has kind of suffered for my lack of work the past month, so there's at least hope the new saddle will fit as she bulks back up.

I've been having awful rides on Ms Bridget. She's so braced and argumentative I think I may get the vet involved just to be sure she'. Just bring a grump. The latest development was to be REALLY barn sour...sucking back, then rearing and bucking when pushed to leave the property. So incredibly rude! We fixed it, obviously, but I'm like "really?! are we really discussing this again? Is this going to be an annual thing forever?"

Unimpressed mare

I'm a little at my wits end with her rudeness of yesterday she went for a visit to the round pen to reestablish some manners. The great thing about the Bridgets of the world is they're super awful and badass for about 10 minutes cantering, max, then it's just too exhausting and manners miraculously reinstall to their brains.

Sovie/Sophie had an easy week, although there was a little drama. Her brain also uninstalled temporarily this week. I took Bridget away, and I guess she LOVES her, even though Bridget is awful to her in return. Luckily she's a smart cookie and just as I was vowing to sell her (OMG screaming drives me nuts, but hers is the worst I've heard - so high pitched and shrill!) her brain returned (as did peace to the entire neighbourhood.)
Some adorable mini floof...remember our buddy Lily? She and Sophie sound pretty much the same, Sophie is just 10x louder, lol

Besides the one baby horse moment, she's been her normal curious and sweet self. She's out in her summer field now that spring is here, but she still comes running to say hi, and "helps" me groom her by showing me all the itchy places.

On the personal improvement side, I bought this audiobook and am loving it so far. I listen to it on my lunch time walk/runs:

And, after a crazy allergic reaction earlier in the week, my diet for the next 3 weeks gets to be even more restricted than I had originally planned. Not quite how I wanted to lose weight...but...winning?!

Finally, I did a major spring tack clean up. This is just part of it, I have so much to sell, lol.

Monday, 16 April 2018


Warning, this post kind of got out of hand length wise, so maybe save it for when you're *really* bored.

Mentally I've been feeling a lot of blahs.  Feeling like I want to rethink and redefine some things in life is a normal part of the process of being human, but let's face it, I like to have a plan to follow. I don't cope well with uncertainty and feeling like I am not moving forward.

As mentioned previously, I spent quite a bit of time thinking while I was out hiking on the trails the past couple of weeks, with and without a baby pony in tow. Bridget got out for a couple of trail rides too last week, but I skipped out of drill team practice and all other structured ride time and actually didn't do any riding at all last week.

Bridget doesn't mind having a quiet schedule and contemplating the grass growing. :)

So, without further adieu, here are my 2018 goals, redefined.

1. Look after myself.

And...actually, that's it.

For 3 years now, my life has been super hectic and busy. I've loved almost every minute of it. I've advanced both career and riding wise, met some serious long term goals and did some things I never thought I'd be able to do. On paper I've got a pretty good life. But, I've sacrificed so much time to work and horses that nothing has been left over. I've been missing out on time with friends, family, and my husband G. Not to mention enough time to look after myself properly.

I wouldn't change the decisions of the me of 3 years ago. I had wanted my current job forever, and knew there would be sacrifices. I had wanted to ride at a higher level forever, and happily the super wonderful EC has a farm 10 minutes from my work. So, the opportunity was there for the first time to take regular lessons and put as much of myself as I could into this horse thing. I would have regretted not taking advantage of that the best I could.

Moving forward, I was recently given the opportunity to work part time at my job on the South Coast, meaning I can be home 4 days a week. I thought hard on what that meant riding goal wise and decided to move Bridget to my home town and keep on keeping on the best I could independently. That meant mucking out and riding in the rain and dark all winter long, many 16 hour days, and of course trying to organize trailering, ferry schedules, clinics and lessons as well.

It was a bit of a struggle to make it all work, but there were good days in with the tough ones. However, a few weeks ago, it just stopped being fun at all. Consistently, my rides were hard and felt like work and I always had way too many chores at the barn to fit in the time I had. It was difficult to get out of bed in the mornings because I was so tired, and even my days at my real job started to feel overwhelming.

But, not to worry. As always, life is full of choices, and we have options.

Our lawn has dandelions! Yay spring :) Was going to caption about stopping to smell the flowers, but this particular one is full of wasps. Typical!:)

I pondered moving Bridget back to EC's where I have a bigger support system, but my schedule makes riding there more than a couple of times a week difficult. I pondered moving the horses home, where it's cheap and I can look after them how I like. I pondered leaving them where they are self boarded and paying someone to do some of the chores for me.

Of course, what I really needed to do was sit down and discuss things with G. "What exactly are you unhappy with?" was his question. My answers:

- I feel like I have no time.

- I am unhappy with my weight and fitness and want to be able to dedicate time to bettering that.

- I feel like I am spending too much time and money on horses (for not enough result/reward)

- I am sad because I feel like I can't count on Bridget to advance further (riding/competing goals wise) with me. Yes, we can always be better, and we've made great strides already, but I'm feeling more and more like I've reached her limit mentally, and physically she's very difficult to motivate/keep fit as the work gets harder.

So, here goes nothing. In the theme of looking after myself first, here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to ride when I feel like it - not with any concentrated effort to meet goals or keep Bridget fit. I'm going to kindly decline further drill team practices or any other ongoing, inflexible riding commitments. I'm tabling showing this year, and saving the funds for an equestrian related getaway adventure I've wanted to do forever. I'm going to do my best to treat myself kindly - it's not 'giving up' or 'quitting', there is always next year or maybe other horses.

B makes her own fun if needed.
As does Sovie.

With the extra time I will have from scaling my riding back to a few days a week, I'm going to prioritize cooking healthy meals and hitting the gym (or resting if that's what I need)

Ms Sovannah is going to get out for a lot of adventures, but she's only just turning two and she's teeny tiny. I likely won't be riding her (even a little) until well into her 3 year old year, maybe even 4. I'm not going to pressure myself to keep her on a regular schedule. For the next year, she simply needs to have semi polite ground manners, be decent to handle for basic things, and get out and see the world a couple of times a week. We can maybe tackle long lining later this year and I'll get her out on the trails doing that instead of leading. Worst case, though, her outing can simply be getting dragged down to the ring and standing tied while I ride Bridget.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A Non Update Update!

Hey, guess what I did with the horses this week?



So exciting!

B protesting her tiny turnout, and that her current neighbour is Sovie. The horses will all be happy when the ground finally dries out and they can go back out in the pastures. B more than most, she feels the need to try to challenge Sovie to pony dance offs, which is exhausting I'm sure.

A combination of truly horrendous weather, more work than I expected, things going a bit wrong, and other priorities meant just getting the chores done was where it was at for me. This is the first time I've had  even a few days off riding in ages, let alone an entire week!  Although truthfully if I had prioritized things differently I might have found time. I know I spend too much time grooming and being fussy about the cleanliness of their stalls and buckets :)

Standing tied patiently while I do chores and clean her stall and paddock. Good baby.
On the plus side, I checked a lot of the more mundane things off the list for a while...grain supplies are all topped up and measured out, hay is restacked and organized (I bought alfalfa to mix with Bridget's timothy for growing Sovie, requiring some Tetris skills to organize in my limited space at the barn!) Both horses had their spring deworming, and both donated additional winter fluff to my brushes and are looking a little more tidy.

I've caught a bit of the flu as of this morning, so no riding today, either. I've been rereading some of my favorite baby horse training books instead. Sovie is still quite young and teeny tiny, so we obviously won't be starting her under saddle this year or likely even next, but there's no reason she can't learn to ground drive later this summer.

As for Bridget's plans this year, I'm still on a time out to think. My personal goals remain the same, but my goals for Bridget are being reevaluated. I've made a few decisions and had a couple of good talks with the right people, but I'll recap those next time. I can confirm that we're planning on having fun by attending a local gymkhana day in a couple of weeks. Eek!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Stuff For Sale

I'm in spring cleaning mode and am a little shocked at the amount of not-useful-to-me-anymore horsey items I own! Buying another pony certainly didn't help matters either - I have a lot of horse sized things that now won't have a use for the foreseeable future. I HATE clutter, so it's all got to go.

I've added another page (next to "Cast of Characters") where I'm going to attempt to put all those non needed items, and I'll let you know anytime I add more things. I've just started with the stuff I have on Ebay and a couple of english girths...if you're needing one of those, an XW tree County saddle, an Asmar sun shirt in size L, or a horse sized Stubben bridle, take a look.

Moving forward, I think I'll advertise the remainder locally and here. I've got SO many other things I'll be adding to the sale page: lots of horse sized girths, reins, bridles and parts, bits, stirrups, leathers, saddle pads, even some miscellaneous western tack from way back when. Ughh, how in the world did I somehow equip myself with nearly an entire tack store in our basement?

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Trail Walking

Bridget only got out 3 times last week, mostly because I just wasn't that into it and we both need a break. So, as promised, we skipped anything structured and just did a lot of slow trail miles this week. She's barefoot and our local trails can be quite rocky, so slow and steady is where it's at. I contemplated front shoes with the farrier last weekend, but with our narrow, windy, steep trails you really wouldn't want to go much faster that often anyway and her feet are pretty tough as is. 

Media today brought to you by Sovie.

Thanks for all the supportive comments regarding our recent struggles in training and my subsequent decision to take a time out and think on things. Bloggers are truly the best! I know it's the best thing for B and our partnership to take this time out, but of course I'm always wanting to be better and learn more. If it works for EC, we might reinstate my Monday night lessons on her lovely mare Audrey, just to curb my feelings of not meeting my riding goals.

Sovie was a very good girl this past week too. As mentioned, she's feeling a bit more confident and so she's getting comfortable testing the waters and providing us with little bits of baby drama. I think I've mentioned my coach's mare Audrey more than once here (I LOVE her, and take lessons on her when I can - but her nickname is 'Squirrel' because..yeah, she's wonderful and brave, but the attention span is lacking and the thinking/reacting happens very quickly). EC liked Sovie upon meeting her, because "she's a mini Audrey!". The more I see of her, yes, yes she really is. Good thing I love Audrey, because I think I'm going to have my hands full with this one!

Sovie and I walked the trails too, but obviously I did not ride. (No squished baby ponies please!) She was super brave and happy to be out. She already marches up and down very steep hills like NBD, and marches into the lake and through puddles without issue. She's pretty good with traffic. She was very unsure of all of that a couple of weeks ago, so I think she's going to be a pretty smart cookie. Motorbikes, dogs, and things appearing behind us are something to work on, but all in all she's a fantastic baby. She tries very hard, she loves her people, and really wants to get along and do the right thing.

In other news bits, I stopped in at EC's last night and said hi to Ginger. She looks fabulous and just got back from an eventing clinic where she was apparently a superstar. She's had a younger girl half leasing her for a few months now and they're super cute together and obviously like each other a lot! Her usual lease teen still has a half lease on her too, so lucky Ginger has two best friends that she approves of. That makes me so happy.

I also have a lead on a potential dressage saddle for B. Fingers crossed it works...I'm feeling pretty burnt out on the whole finding appropriate tack for Bridget thing and it would be nice if the new one works...otherwise I will be up to 4 saddles to sell and I'm just not feeling being a virtual tack store owner :)

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Not A Unicorn

Aww, turns out Sovie isn't a perfect unicorn after all! :) We've had some pretty yucky weather so she's been in at night and only out in a small round pen during the day, so she' got a bit of excess energy right now! The barn owner told me she was a bit naughty to handle this past week, and I got to experience a little drama too. She's been out for a couple more walks and had her feet trimmed too - all very exciting for her I'm sure. She's very, very good, but the 2 second attention span combined with a bit of boundary testing keeps it real. Farrier was like " She's really sweet, but a bit of a drama queen, yeah?" Yep, I think so :) She's just feeling good and a bit more confident in her new home, which makes me happy.  Fingers crossed it dries up a bit and she can go out in her big paddock more regularly.

Still looking a little like a unicorn, tho.

Despite all the great things happening right now (job promotion, 4 day work week coming soon, NEW PONY!) I've really been struggling mentally, particularly with my riding. News flash: Bridget is also not a perfect unicorn! And I am not a master unicorn rider/trainer either :) We have gone through some really rough patches before, but I've had EC around to help keep me encouraged and motivated (and to also trade horses with temporarily when I'm feeling like I need a time out from pony drama). Being on my own a lot more, it's a lot harder to be positive and motivated when the rides aren't fun. Because we are in the mother of all rough patches right now. The forward into contact is broken...again. The work ethic from the winter is gone. And I don't know if I have it in me to keep repeating this same cycle over and over. Quitting is not something I'm great at, though.

Sleeping and eating is more her speed.

I've had a few long chats about my future plans and goals these last few months and I think I need to have a few more. I've recently been gently reminded that I'm maybe not as bad at this as I think...that just maybe Ms B is not meeting me halfway and maybe she would even like a different job. Maybe that this isn't the greatest fit anymore. Which, is not the first or last time I'll probably hear that with her, but it's the first time I'm feeling defeated enough to consider it seriously.

So, you'll have to excuse me while I drag out my western saddle and spend some time on the trails pondering. There are of course so many ways forward, and it always seems like some nice days on the trail are just the ticket for letting go and visualizing next steps.
Lots of grooming required right now too! They are both shedding like crazy. I've also been busy researching nutrition, Sovie arrived a little thin and tucked up which I attributed to her journey, but it's been a couple of weeks now and I think she could look better.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

New Pony Musings

Just some thoughts and first impressions on Sovie/Sophie now that she's been home for over a week!

As my recaps indicate, she's had a ton of outings and adventures in such a short time - a trip to a big show grounds, a stopover at EC's place, several trailer rides, and of course some hand walking trail outings here at home. So, I'm feeling like I've already got a pretty good idea of what she's all about.

Like all good ponies, eating makes everything better

In short, I feel like I got super lucky. Buying her sight unseen was a bit of a risk, but she's better than I could have hoped. I was mentally ready for a half wild baby pony, but she's pretty much the exact opposite to that. The breeder did a fantastic job getting her ready for the real world, and even in new situations she's got such a great temperament that you could be fooled into thinking she's done it all before.
First walk on the trail, Sophie says no big deal.

Temperament wise, she's super generous and willing. She wants to be your best friend, she loves everyone, and she tries really hard to do whatever you ask. Her default if she's not sure is to hesitate and think, and then go right ahead and try it if you encourage it. She's very, very trusting of us. When things startle her, she tends to turn and face them, which I love. She's quite curious about the world and once she investigates the scary thing, she's not likely to spook at it or anything similar again.

She's a lovely mover. In the videos I was sent I think she was a bit anxious - the more relaxed version we see every day is quite nice and is giving me hope for some future dressage goals.

Reusing this baby pic because so cute

I get the feeling she's got a very busy mind. She's aware of everything going on around her and right now everything gets investigated (and usually tasted, lol). She quite enjoys our outings and any attention she gets. I'm going to see if I can find some appropriate toys to keep her busy on her off days.
watching u

The only downside is that I'm a little bit at loose ends for things to do with her. She very much wants to be involved in our everyday adventures, but she's obviously much too young to do anything in the way of actual work. I'm not crazy about teaching them via round penning or longing this young. We might start long lining her later in the fall, just quietly around the arena and trails, lots of straight lines and quiet transitions.
Grooming right now is always an option, much hair, so itchy!

As far as ground manners, etc go, she's excellent and great with everything from standing to spray bottles to clippers to putting her feet where you ask. Perhaps I'll build her a trail course to investigate and lead her on that? I don't know - I had thoughts of just leaving her alone to grow but I don't think that's going to be enough mental stimulation for her. I guess worst case I can pony her everywhere we go and she can stand tied and wait for us while I school Bridget :)